At a meeting on Mercer Island tonight, the King County Regional Transit Task force will roll out a draft scenario showing what 400,000 hours of service cuts—the equivalent of about $40 million of Metro's $60 million 2011 budget shortfall—would look like.(The remaining $20 million would come from cuts elsewhere in Metro's budget.)

The 400,000-hour scenario is a worst-case scenario, not a policy proposal (from the report: "400,000 hours should be viewed as merely a working assumption for illustration purpose at this time"), but it does give a sense of where Metro might cut hours in the future.

In coming up with hypothetical cuts, the task force was asked to focus on corridors that serve the most residents and jobs; preserve social equity for students, the elderly, the poor, and other disadvantaged groups; maintain geographic balance; and focus on areas of the county where demand for transit is already high. They were also told that Metro needs to get its costs down, particularly labor costs, which make up 65 percent of Metro's total operating budget.

In practice, that would mean the deepest cuts would come from local, non-arterial routes, which serve fewer people, and from more expensive peak commuter routes; conversely, the guidelines would mean fewer cuts to routes that serve busy arterials with frequent service.

Some Seattle-specific examples from the report:

• The 7 Express to Rainier Beach could be eliminated.

• The 5 through Fremont could absorb other routes that serve a similar area.

• The 21 in West Seattle could be shortened to no longer serve downtown, forcing commuters to transfer at Alaska Junction.

• Six routes serving the University District (the 66, 67, 71, 72, 73) could be consolidated into a single route.

• Service to View Ridge on the 71 could be replaced by a new Route 69, forcing View Ridge riders to transfer.

Tonight's meeting starts at 5:30 at the Mercer Island Community Center, 8236 Southeast 24th Street on Mercer Island.
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